Certain verses in the Bible have cost some confusion regarding wealth and sin. In this article, we’ll look at those verses and aim to bring more clarity to the topic of when the pursuit of wealth may lead to sin.
Wealth in and of itself is not a sin. Wealth can do enormous good, especially when one uses it to benefit others.
The concept of tithing in the Bible, giving 1/10 of your income or produce to the church, is about sharing your wealth.
Jesus said that those who give will be blessed in return:
“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
The problem isn’t wealth or even necessarily the pursuit of it when it is managed responsibly. The problem is when wealth leads to sin.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
–1 Timothy 6:10
However, with wealth comes a certain power, which in turn brings great temptation. We can be led astray by the things that money buys. It can lead to materialism, lust, hedonism and selfishness. Some people can view money as the most important thing in life and they are willing to murder for it.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
– Matthew 6:24
Some Bible translations use the Syriac word “mammon,” in the above verse, which translates to money or riches.
Jesus points out the tendency to put trust in one’s own wealth and/or abilities. Money can certainly both provide opportunities and solve worldly problems. However, when someone can guide their life any way they choose due to their wealth, it’s very easy to forget about God and put money first.
Because of this fact, Jesus said that some wealthy people will have difficulty putting God before their riches.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
– Mark 10:25
God neither condemns people because they are wealthy nor considers being rich sin. God does not consider poverty a virtue or hold a higher view of those who are poor. All are equal in God’s eyes.
The late Reverend Billy Graham put it succinctly in his writings: “The altar of God is where kings and paupers meet. The rich man must put his riches upon the altar and the poor man must put his greed upon the altar and with one voice cry out to God, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.'”
Money can lead to selfishness and we can seek wealth for selfish or greedy reasons. The Bible teaches that what we need more than anything is God.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”
Jesus taught we should focus on true wealth – heavenly wealth.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”